Tala Sogafai Utumapu, 23, has worked as an administrator of an Early Childhood centre for many years, but has always harboured the desire to qualify as an ECE teacher.
Having attempted an online programme through another provider, Tala decided EIT | Te Pūkenga was where she needed to follow her passion.
Having completed the EIT | Te Pūkenga Study and Career Preparation programme, Tala enrolled in the Level 5 Diploma in Early Childhood Education at the beginning of the year.
It was a tough start to the programme as Cyclone Gabrielle hit Hawke’s Bay, devastating the campus in Taradale.
“Because the cyclone hit, we had to push back our starting date. It did put a hold on it, and we have to do our classes online now, but they understood our situation and they managed to push us through and encourage us.”
Tala says, that while she was personally impacted by the Cyclone, EIT | Te Pūkenga was very accommodating in allowing for the disruption.
It has however, not deterred her from pursuing her education.
“Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be an early childcare teacher. It just took a while for me to fully make that commitment.”
“I decided to enrol at EIT and just that process of enrolling again made life easier. That fully helped me confirm that, yep, I’m going to become a Pasifika teacher. And I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, and it just took a while. But going through EIT, it just made the whole process easier. “
“Being in administration at an early childcare centre, it kind of also pushed me to do my studies and become what I really wanted to be.”
Tala says she first began working as an administrator for her church, King’s House Church, for about one-and-half-years volunteering, which led to her becoming an administrator at the Church’s Early Childcare Centre. She has been there for about three years.
Doing the Diploma programme has given Tala confidence.
“I know studying, it’s definitely not easy, but through the support from EIT and the teachers and even classmates, they want you to succeed. They don’t set you up to fail. They set you up to succeed, and they see your potential. So just having that, and knowing the staff has your back and is encouraging you, it just makes things easier for me.”
She is enjoying the programme so much that she plans to continue next year and transition over to the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education.
“My ultimate goal is definitely to go and do the bachelor’s. I felt like the diploma will help me build that confidence, get into my studies, just to know the information, it sets me up to go forward in the Bachelor programme.”
Tala is still working part-time at her Church’s centre but plans to return as a teacher when she qualifies.
“I see myself, after the diploma and degree, at the centre being an early childcare teacher. I’m just really excited. I was thinking of just going to do my diploma, but I thought, no, I can do it. It’s given me that confidence and the boost to continue and complete the degree So hopefully, after everything is done, I will be at my centre, teaching and not in the office.”
Tania du Plessis, the Early Childhood Education Programme Coordinator at EIT | Te Pūkenga, said: “In our early childhood teaching programme we offer flexible options, such as enrolling in the Diploma first before moving on to the bachelor degree, just as Tala has chosen to do.”
“Our team of teacher educators are fully dedicated to your study success and you can be assured of our full support every step of the way. Our qualification is highly regarded in the wider ECE community, with experienced and passionate mentor teachers to guide you in your practical experience. Enquire today!”